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A Dictionary of Euphemisms [Hardcover]

R.W. Holder
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 1996 0198692757 978-0198692751 Revised edition
The result of a lifetime's reading and fascination with the art of not saying what you mean, this dictionary offers a dissection of the human tendency to use mild, vague or roundabout expressions rather than words which are blunt, precise, and disagreeably true. Its thousands of hugely entertaining entries range from the long-established, such as everlasting life and the Grim Reaper (death), powder room , and house of ill repute , to recent coinages including odorously challenged (smelly), corporate entertainment (bribery), AMW - actress, model, whatever (prostitute), and educational welfare manager (truancy officer). Providing widespread coverage of both British and American euphemisms, the Dictionary gives definitions, examples from real authors, and historical explanations. It is a browser's delight and an essential reference book. This book is intended for general trade; humour/language interest.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 491 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition edition (1 Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198692757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198692751
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,362,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


The Oxford Dictionary of Euphemisms is a gold mine for anyone who enjoys words (Writing Magazine) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

About the Author: R. W. Holder is the director of numerous companies, speaks several languages, and travels widely.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 7 Aug 2009
I have long been fascinated with the origins of phrases and different usage of our rich language. In this book I anticipated an informative but amusing tour of some of the unexplained oddities of usage as well as a few more useful expressions for use before ones maiden aunt. However in reality there is little humour, many of the entries appear incomplete and the use of profanities seems to be more intended to shock than illuminate, especially as most have a correct term associated with them which is not a euphemism but proper english.
I found the tone at best pedantic and at worst patronising. This book will go straight to the 2nd hand book shelf in our local charity store - 2 weeks after purchase.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 21 July 2014
By djwmps
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Say What You Mean--Or Use A Euphemism 9 Aug 2000
By "goldcoastreviews" - Published on
Author, R. W. Holder holds fast to two tests of a euphemism: 1) It must be a substitute for blunt precision or disagreeable truth 2) That a euphemism once meant, or still does mean, something else entirely different. In short, a way to be politically correct. A softer, kinder, way of speech so to speak.
In this work of almost 500 pages, we learn the art of not saying what we mean. Some are almost common language now. Such as "bowel movement", "working girl", "Native American" and "downsizing". Newer ones include, "white knuckler" and "vertically challenged" ( a nice way to say your boss is short)
I enjoy the way this is cross indexed and arranged. I did notice that a great percentage of the material is British. I wonder if that means the Brits are very good at "mums the word"? Seriously, I downrated the review a bit due to that fact.
Filled with thousands of of quotations, definitions, derivations, and historical explanations, this dictionary is extremely comprehensive for perusing.
A good editon for reference collections.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is what it says it is 14 Dec 2008
By Norman Strojny - Published on
This book is a good addition to other references for the English language. However, it is, primarily, British in tone and in the material included. Also, some American non-sexual but illicit meanings seem to have entirely escaped the authors. Finally, there is a slight tendency toward prissiness in definitions in some areas where an American might give an even blunter definition.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An adventure in the English language 13 April 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Cool means: low temperature. Or does it mean that's fine? Or suave? Or relaxed? "Oxford Dictionary of Euphemisms: How Not To Say What You Mean" is an adventure in the English language outlining the countless words in the English language that have so many meanings thanks to changing times and slang, that it's hard for even a native speaker to stay on top of the changes. "Oxford Dictionary of Euphemisms" is a must for anyone who speaks English or is trying to learn when everyone else is barely speaking it to begin with.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does not include the origins of the sayings 12 Dec 2012
By Taylor Brickley - Published on
I mostly wanted this book because I am interested in the origins of euphemisms. Some of them include this information, but most do not.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A scolarly book. 29 Mar 2014
By tom - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A bit dull and not at all what I expected. But is proabaly a good companion to Rawlson's book of Euphamisms.
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